Now that he's married with three children and more than a dozen years past the scrappy punk records that launched his band into the last wave of pre-MySpace D.I.Y. stardom, touring doesn't hold the glamor it once did for Get Up Kids frontman Matt Pryor.
"The one thing that could make this job better is if either my family could come on tour, or if we could set up a small theater and people could come from around the world to see us play at home," he said recently. "But I don't see Lawrence, Kan., becoming the new Branson."
Still, the Get Up Kids will hit Emo's on Saturday for the second time in just over a year. And for the first time since the band's 2005 breakup, this outing can't be framed as a "reunion." The Kids will be supporting "There Are Rules," their first full-length in six years, which drops Tuesday on their recently formed record label, Quality Hill Records.
In many ways, the new album is a return to the band's beginnings, blending short bursts of frenetic punk energy with angular guitar lines and the searing wail of Pryor's cathartic melodies. But the album also makes heavy use of the studio as instrument, which Pryor attributes to bassist Rob Pope's experience as a member of one of Austin's most successful bands.
"I think the biggest influence from Rob being in Spoon is that he's become kind of an analog Nazi. There are no computers on the new record. All the effects are manual, and it was recorded to tape."
On songs like "Shatter Your Lung," these vintage techniques give the record a controlled, sleek sheen. Others, like "The Widow Paris," bristle with spacey static, which adds a ghostly energy to sinister minor key melodies. But perhaps the biggest gain is the crisp, bassy boom that pulses throughout the album, lending an early Strokes vibe to "Regent's Court" and "Automatic."
Of course, Get Up Kids fans haven't always been welcome to change. The band dealt with a substantial amount of fallout after the release of 2002's classic rock-tinged "On a Wire." But Pryor has always seen change as a positive force in the band's musical growth.
"A lot of reasons our songs have evolved over the years is because we try to keep ourselves from getting stale and pigeonholed," he said. "So it's like, let's see what happens when you tie your hands behind your back, and let's see if you can make something better because you're not doing what you normally do."
In particular, Pryor kept the lyrical focus of "There Are Rules" away from love songs — a tendency that once made the Get Up Kids the unwitting figureheads of the emo genre. The band also employed a first-idea-best-idea approach to songwriting, scrapping music that didn't gel within the first 30 minutes.
And as you'd expect for a band that already broke up once, the Get Up Kids still deal with some tensions. But they're getting better about talking through their problems.
"Our conflict resolution skills are much better," Pryor said. "Getting drunk and beating each other up – that never fixes anything."
Correction: In a previous version of this story, the day of the Get Up Kids show was incorrect. The band plays Saturday at Emo's.